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The Powell & Pressburger Pages

Dedicated to the work of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger and all the other people, both actors and technicians who helped them make those wonderful films.

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"I want to be a sailor"

Abu (Sabu) & Ahmad (John Justin) have just escaped from the prison in Bagdad.
Abu complains about the unjust King (meaning Jaffar)
Ahmad admits he is the King, Abu doesn't believe him
Then Abu sees the guards sent to capture them and realises that jaffar wouldn't bother to send so many just to capture him so he throws himself on Ahmad's mercy
Ahmad says they must go back to Bagdad but Abu says they would be killed and must escape to Basra
As they sail the boat to Basra, Abu sings ...

I want to be a sailor,
Sailing out to sea.
No plowboy, tinker, tailor's,
Any fun to be.
Aunts and cousins,
By the baker's dozens,
Drive their men to sea,
Or highway robbery.
I want to be a bandit,
Can't you understand it?
Sailing to sea is life for me,
    Is life for me.

Music by Miklós Rózsa

Lyrics by "Robert Denham" - pseudonym for Sir Robert Vansittart, chief diplomatic adviser to the British Foreign Office in 1939. Brought in by his friend Miklós Rózsa to write the lyrics for one of the songs in The Thief of Bagdad (1940). Sir Robert had had much experience serving in the Middle East. He spoke various languages of the area and was well versed in the old stories and mythology. So when Korda wanted to put together a film that was an amalgam of various stories from the Middle East, Sir Robert was willing and able to help them. However, he was still serving in the diplomatic corps and didn't want to use his own name in the on-screen credits for such a light-hearted film (he had previously contributed to Sixty Glorious Years (1938), but that was a worthy film about Queen Victoria). So it was agreed that he would take the name of the studio (Denham) as his on-screen surname.

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